E-Commerce in Egypt – The Tipping Point: Episode 1

Episode 1: Identifying the stakeholders & controlling forces

Being at the heart of the E-Commerce scene in Egypt and while working on the preparations for robusta’s upcoming E-Commerce Summit 2018 (contact me if you’re interested in participation) I can’t help but keep asking myself what’s left till the market reaches its tipping point in Egypt. Inspite of having one of the highest social media penetration rates in the world with more than 33 million users on Facebook alone massive increase starting 2011 and between 2014 to 2017,  E-Commerce in Egypt hasn’t reached anywhere near the global E-Commerce growth rates for the obvious reasons like, for starters, the fact that the Egyptian customer is still hanging on having to see and feel the product they’re buying to make sure it’s good and being afraid to use their credit cards online and fearing their goods won’t be shipped (aka Egyptians have trust issues).

Being half engineer and half consultant, I couldn’t help but tackle this from a merely analytical perspective and run a quick mostly qualitative assessment of both the market stakeholders and controlling forces through a series of upcoming blog posts in an attempt to at least present the problem and try to find practical solutions and get you, the customer, the business owner, the rising entrepreneur, the big brand and anyone who believes, like me and everyone at robusta, that there’s a great future and opportunities yet to be snatched in the business of E-Commerce in Egypt, to weigh on this matter and give each other pieces of our mind, turning this from the thoughts of one individual to a discussion among those who are concerned and who knows what else. For starters, Identifying the stakeholders is mostly straight forward; however, identifying the controlling forces can get a little bit tricky.

Out of our experience at robusta for the past 4 years with several E-Commerce implementations, some of which are true models for successful case studies, I believe the most critical mix to look at of stakeholders and forces would be:

  1. Supply: that would be the retailers and product providers. Think B.TECH.
  2. Demand: that would be the end consumers. That’s everyone of us, the end users.
  3. Mediators: in some cases there’s a marketplace acting as a mediator bridging the supply & demand. Think Souq, Jumia, Edfa3ly, etc..
  4. Technology: that comes at the core and probably the key contributor to E-Commerce over the traditional brick-and-mortar retail and distribution.
  5. Logistics: though a key pillar of traditional retail, E-Commerce adds an additional layer of complexity to optimize on cost and meet customers’ expectations.
  6. Customer Service: in a global world that truly brings international E-Commerce players as close to local consumers as local players, customers expectations have truly hit the roof
  7. Marketing: between the classical 4Ps and the need to go almost fully digital, marketing becomes one of the key barriers to new entrants to the market to realize the full potential of the market
  8. People: most analysis would overlook the role of knowledgeable workers, management capacities and small business owners setting and E-Commerce strategies and respective implementations.

In the following series, I will look at each of the aforementioned and attempt to do an assessment of the current status of each in an attempt to look at the missing jigsaw pieces and anticipate the moment in time where they all click and unleash a huge potential of an economy on its own that can be a critical driver for economic development as it does not only develop the retail business but obviously creates lots of jobs on the logistics, customer service and significantly contributes to the development of the technology and financial sectors.

Would love to get thoughts on this as I plan to break it down into a series of detailed analysis of each of the aforementioned and I’m quite flexible to adjust for a more inclusive perspective that’s hopefully one step forwards towards the market tipping point.

I believe other perspectives looking at the topic could also be quite enlightening, one of which would be the study of the evolution in other more developed markets and the different phases it has gone through until it reached maturity.

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